Ray Clark Dickson

For eight decades, Ray Clark Dickson, born in Portland, Oregon, 1919, has written with clarity, sensitivity and narrative power. A state track champion, Ray won an athletic scholarship to the University of Oregon, graduating with a degree in journalism. An experienced drummer, he formed and led his own 12-piece Big Band, performed during university years and on the road. During World War Two. Ray served in the Pacific Theatre as a Captain in the Marine Corps.

In his youth, Ray worked in Oregon sawmills and at coastal ports, absorbing revelations of mountains, the sea, and people he met. He spent a year in Mexico writing narrative poetry and pulp fiction novels during Jack Kerouac’s time there in 1952. Widely traveled, he is noted for volatility and resonance of language, fusing traditional forms into street and jazz poetry, and applying antic and complex structures at different levels. First published at nine years of age, Ray has covered most of the 20th century, and now into the 21st continues with Bergson’s concept of Dure, “We carry with us all our rolling experience compacted in the ever-growing snowball of our lives.”

Ray has published hundreds of poems, including 22 in the highly noted Beloit Poetry Journal. He was selected for Beloit’s Anthology (2000) Fifty Years Of The Beloit Poetry Journal, along with inspirational mentors, William Carlos Williams, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, Gwendolyn Brooks and others. He has a CD, Cocoloba, background a la Cuba jazz. A publisher?s proof of his sixth chapbook, The San Francisco Pit Band Blues, was requested by UCLA?s Special Collection, Poetry Archives. The Blood of Butterflies, is his tenth book of poetry. Ray was chosen as the First Poet Laureate, city and county, San Luis Obispo, 1999, and nominee by the San Luis Obispo Arts Council for State Poet Laureate in 2002.

All Books

Wingbeats After Dark

Ray Clark Dickson

Publication Date: November 1, 2009

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 1-59709-458-7



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Most of Ray Clark Dickson’s formal energy derives from the brilliant jazz-blown waves of participial phrasing. Over and over again, a prepositional phrase is risen out of stasis by gerund. In the clickety-click ching of his lines, he delivers the adrenalinic music of the century’s explorers who went off for story and returned with poems, then went off again. Dickson’s poems insist that, searched well, the world has many astonishing and sustaining beauties—human, aural, kinetic. And the poems also insist that the inquisitive, fraternal drive toward the next day is probably the world’s most alluring beauty. To open these pages is to begin that drive.